Don't have the time to get in 10,000 steps? You can still decrease your risk of a heart attack or stroke as long as you have a staircase nearby.
Setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps everyday has many heart-healthy benefits, but the deed can be extremely time-consuming and challenging, especially in bad weather. Luckily, there's an alternative that will still improve your heart health, and it's backed by science. New research from a UK study of 460,000+ participants published in Atherosclerosis Journal suggests that walking up at least five flights of stairs each day will lessen the likelihood of heart disease, up to 16 percent.
About the Study
At the beginning of the study, participants were asked about their stair-climbing average, and then organized intro groups accordingly. Participants were also questioned about their lifestyle habits, family health history, and sociodemographic information. They were then surveyed again five years later.
Information about patients and their heart health, specifically the presence of symptoms of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD), characterized by plaque buildup in the arteries, was collected. The study focused on identifying coronary artery disease (CAD), ischemic stroke (IS), and acute complications.
After a median of 12.5 years, scientists recorded 39,000 cases of ASCVD, 30,000 cases of CAD, and 10,500 cases of IS. The data revealed that participants who climbed one to five flights of stairs daily had a three percent lower risk of ASCVD compared to those who walked no stairs. Additionally, those who climbed at least six flights daily had a reduced risk of heart disease compared to those who walked fewer stairs.
""Short bursts of high-intensity stair climbing are a time-efficient way to improve cardiorespiratory fitness... especially among those unable to achieve the current physical activity recommendations," says Dr. Lu Qi, an author of the study."
Why Exercise Is Important For Heart Health
When paired with a balanced diet and a good night's rest, exercising can do wonders for your heart. This is because it reduces stress hormones that are harmful to heart health and decreases inflammation, among other benefits.
As Dr. Danine Fruge, a medical director at Pritikin Longevity Center previously told Real Simple, “With regular exercise, your muscles improve their ability to use oxygen in the blood so your heart doesn’t have to pump as much blood."
If there was ever a reason to take the stairs instead of the elevator next chance you get, this is it. Or if you have stairs in your home or apartment building, try intentionally incorporating this movement into your daily routine to reap the heart-healthy benefits.
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